Microsoft Seeks Standards Approval For Its XML Office Format

The company has submitted its XML-based document format to the ECMA standards body, seeking a compromise with Massachusetts.
In submitting its Microsoft Office Open XML document format technology to the Ecma international standards body Tuesday, Microsoft hopes to find a solution to the open formats issue it has been contesting with the State of Massachusetts.

Ecma officials praised the action by Microsoft, as it was joined in the submission by Apple Computer, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corp., NextPage Inc, Statoil ASA, and Toshiba. Before the submission, Microsoft's Alan Yates told the Boston Globe that although the new initiative didn't meet the "explicit policy" of the state, he hoped state IT officials will view the move as positive.

Massachusetts state IT officials have been wrangling with Microsoft for months, seeking to establish OpenDocument as a standard -- a move opposed by Microsoft.

The OpenDocument format has been ratified by OASIS and is supported by OpenOffice, an open-source Office suite, as well as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice.

Yates, who is general manager of Microsoft Office, said the decision to submit Microsoft Office to the international standards body was not specifically related to the Massachusetts brouhaha.

"We are pleased that Microsoft and its partners are making this submission to Ecma International," said Jan van den Beld, secretary general of Ecma, in a Microsoft press release announcing the submission. "Our members around the globe pride themselves in their ability to drive progress and consensus on important technologies."

Apple made a strong endorsement of the Microsoft submission, too. "Apple and Microsoft will continue to work closely together to deliver great products to Mac users and application developers for many years to come," said Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Philip Schiller, in a statement.

Massachusetts officials maintain that a move to the OpenDocument format would open up office productivity software to more competition.